Getting the Most Out of Your ALA Experience with Keanu Reeves

A couple of years ago I did a presentation to NMRT on how to get the most out of attending the conference. Besides all of the amazing presentations, SWAG, networking, vendors, etc… There is a lot that you can do to put yourself out there and take advantage of the many opportunities to get more involved in the profession. I’m going to rehash that presentation and give you some tips and pointers to be more successful at ALA in Vegas.

slide-1-10241) I used to hate ALA and conferences in general. When I started my career, I went to two conferences and decided I was never going back. I realize now that this was 99.9% my fault. One of the most important things you can do at the conference is meet people and make new friends. Having friends at a conference changes everything. So get out there and meet people to be their friends and not just professional acquaintances!

slide-2-10242) When you start talking to people, they are going to tell you about parties, presentations, ways to get involved and give you more opportunities to meet more people. In fact, the first time I had a good time at ALA it was because some great folks from Reforma invited me to hang out with them. Saying yes is how I accidently wound up on ALA Council. Aaron Dobbs told me to and I said yes. It’s also how I wound up in the ALA Think Tank house. JP asked me to try out this idea he had to stay in houses instead of hotels and I said yes. Don’t be shy about tagging along when people invite you to tag along!

slide-3-10243) Don’t mind the haters. There is always some kinds of drama, someone speaking poorly of someone else, someone expressing some kind of negativity. Its fine, we’re human, that’s going to happen. But try to avoid the negativity. If you don’t like something, just move on. There’s hundreds of things happening at any given time so find something you like before hating on something you don’t.

slide-4-10244) Likewise, project some positivity. Negativity gets a lot of attention on FB, Twitter, and maybe even your blog. But in person, it can be a lot different. Be sure to hype up people’s projects, thank them for their presos and time, and compliment people whenever you can. Be someone that people want to be around with your positive energy and smile and laugh a lot.


slide-5-10245) Showing up is so important. There are so many things happening at ALA that you can’t be at everything but this is your chance to try. Just showing up to the after parties and engaging people has been one of the best things for my career. You can go to bed early, but you’re going to miss out on the opportunities to sit and talk with you library heroes instead of just listening to them talk at you during their presentations.


slide-6-10246) Yep… After you show up, talk to everyone. Don’t be a wallflower. People WANT to talk to you. ALA is a great place where everyone will want to talk to you about whatever you’re interested in. Chances are that they’ll be interested in many of the same things you are. Librarians are all the same so if you talk about cats or Dr. Who you’re pretty much “in.” So while you’re sitting and waiting for that session to start, introduce yourself to the people around you. Ask them questions and get to know them.


slide-7-10247) One key to success is just finding that first person. The one other person in the conference who you can hang out with. Its much easier to engage with people when you have a buddy to do it with. Plus, you and your buddy can come and go together to events and that makes it much easier. You can also help each other find more people or introduce each other to the people that you both know and double your network.

slide-8-10248) What’s better than one friend? A dozen friends! Try and get a co-hort together. There are a couple of ways to do this through ALA like Emerging Leaders, running for ALA Council, but mostly its going to depend on you. If you’re having a hard time though, there are a bunch of ways to connect online before the conference. For example, follow the conference hashtags, the tumblarians on tumblr, or join one of the hundreds of FB groups for librarians like ALA Think Tank.

slide-9-10249) It’s easy to get involved and offer your hand in services. You can try to volunteer for the conference and connect with people that way. Offer to volunteer for one of the committees or do things that help people at the conference like Erica Findley’s party map.



slide-10-102410) Hey! You came to ALA and you put yourself out there. That’s the first risk you took. Now take another. Next year submit some program proposals, email people at ALA and ask them if you can help them with anything, do something big and exciting like organizing a meetup or a reason for a group of people to come together and do something in the networking uncommons.


slide-11-102411) People expect librarians do act a specific way or live up to some kind of stereotype. This is even pretty prevelant within the profession. If you’re out to get noticed, you have to do something unexpected. For example, Steve Kemple organized a huge and loud disruption at an ALA Conference and it was one of my favorite things to happen at that conference.


slide-12-102412) This one is easy. Start a blog or a tumblr or submit something to a professional journal to put your ideas out there and into the professional discussion. You have ideas and you should share them!




slide-13-102413) The authority at the conferences do things a certain way mostly because that’s the way they’ve always done it. But then some people came out and questioned why and help make the change. For example, this is how the Code of Conduct came about. People came together and questioned authority and made the changes they felt we needed.


slide-14-102414) People naturally gravitate towards people who aren’t afraid to make decisions. Even when those decisions might be bad ones. Of course, you’d never make a bad decision! But, if you have an opinion on something, don’t be afraid to share it. Get a dialog going and start a movement.



slide-15-102415) This isn’t always the easiest thing to do. So many people won’t give up their seats on council or on committees and some people are on a dozen committees. But there are opportunities out there like running for ALA Council, mentoring for NMRT, or getting a seat on a committee.



slide-16-102416) One of the best things you can do for lunch is ask around for people to join you for lunch. There is usually also a ton of great vendor socials or events for all of the meals of the day and the ones in between and you can typically find them using the conference hashtag. Or if you see a couple of people sitting around, ask if you can join them. If approaching a group seems intimidating, then try to find that guy or girl sitting alone in the dining commons and ask to join them. I’ve had some of the best conversations during lunch like this.


slide-17-102417) Even if you aren’t. Guess what? Everyone else isn’t that confident either. We’re basically all faking it so fake it with us until we make it. In any case, everyone likes you so go talk to them!




slide-18-102418) I’m not going to dwell on this one too much, there are SO many blogs and tumblrs dedicated to dressing for conferences.





slide-19-102419) There are so many parties and socials and networking opportunities at the conference. Go out to them. If you’re sleeping, you’re conferencing wrong. You can sleep when you get back to the reference desk.



slide-20-102420) No matter what you do, take this opportunity and make it happen. Whatever “it” is for you. If you’re just there to attend sessions, add to your tote bag collection, or meet John Green then don’t miss out on whatever it is you want to do.

Speaking at Your Library Event

speakingAs a library subject-specialist, I can speak on a variety of topics for your library school, association and library system. Throughout my career I have been a featured speaker and keynoter for staff development days, in-services, conference programs, and pre-conference workshops. As a library manager I have the ability to relate to the workplace challenges and professional development goals of library staff, trustees, and friends. If you are looking for fresh and engaging presentation topics and styles, I have been providing these skills to libraries for the last 6 years.

I have been a frequent speaker, presenter, and workshop leader at library conferences around the country as well as a participant in the Great Library Roadshow. My conference presentations are focused on supporting your conference theme with stories and data that are inspirational, motivating, and actionable for your attendees. I address individual outcomes as well as organizational engagement with relevant content to address your unique library community.

My areas of Expertise and Experience;
• Innovative technology
• Program development
• Library partnerships and collaborations
• Collection development
• Creative fundraising
• Library management
• Teen librarianship
• School librarianship
• Professional development and networking

I also speak on behalf of EveryLibrary on the following;
• Library elections and campaigns
• Politics and libraries
• Best practices in library advocacy
• GOTV and info only campaigns
• Campaign bootcamps, trainings, and workshops

Please contact me directly for information about honorarium and travel expenses as well as my availability. Please note that if you choose me as your library conference keynote speaker or workshop leader, an additional conference program presentation or panel elsewhere during the session day is included, if desired.

Previous Speaking Engagements
Future of Libraries Conference 2010– Building Social Media Capital
Internet Librarian 2010 – The Library eBranch: More Than Just a Website
Internet Librarian 2012, California Library Association 2012 – Speed Technology Dating
Internet Librarian 2012, Computers in Libraries 2013 – Teen Library Users: Engaging the Next Generation
Library 2.0 – Making it Happen: Take Action
Computers in Libraries 2013 – Ask IT (Honest Answers from your IT Department)
ALA MW 2013 – Leading your Career: Stand Out and Be Outstanding
ALA Annual 2012 – Professional Networking
New Jersey Library Association – Me, We (a workshop on collaboration and innovation in libraries)
Public Library Association 2012 – Engaging Customers in an Online Environment
Public Library Association – What makes A Collection? Redefining Libraries through their collections.

Governor Brown’s Proposed Budget for FY 12/13 has no money for public libraries

Governor Brown’s Proposed Budget for FY 12/13 has no money for public libraries. We’re asking the State Legislature to restore $15.2 million in funding.

You can help:

  • Register today to receive legislative alerts here
  • Mail or fax letters NOW to the members of the Senate and Assembly Budget Subcommittees on Education Finance and other key legislators listed here
    A sample letter can be found here
  • Go with other library advocates to visit your state legislators in their district offices during the months of March and April. You will receive another message soon with a link to the CLA member who is CLA’s legislative contact for each legislator responsible for making appointments. You can contact that person to learn the time and place of the appointment. Talking points for those meetings are on the CLA website here
  • Be sure to add what the impact on your community is of losing all state funds for libraries and the double whammy of losing federal funds because of lacking the required matching funds.

    Act today – You can make a Difference and Save State Funding for Public Libraries!

    Two Awesome Internet Things that Libraries Should be a Part of

    Last week I took a good look at two different websites that I think could help libraries out quite a bit. Take a look and tell me how you feel about it.

    Is a crowdfunded media buying platform that lets people spread the word about things that they think matter. They’re vision is “to transform the medium of advertising from one that primarily drives consumption to one of civic participation. What if we had more power to shape which messages were promoted on our streets? What if our billboards inspired us toward a future we actually wanted?”

    Basically, this is just like the Kickstarter website that I’ve written about except for advertising through various multi-media things billboards, radio commercials, televison ads, etc… Since, I know that libraries spend almost nothing on advertising everything awesome that we provide, this could be an amazing way to promote our stuff! All you have to do is put together a campaign, let your friends know about it, and hopefully get them to give a couple bucks to make it happen. My big complaint here is that there is no way to search the campaigns that are going on now. I wanted to search for library campaigns but I couldn’t find any. Its a brand new website so maybe that’s coming.

    “ Book last minute or plan ahead. Browse, reserve, and check in to space immediately at hip coworking venues, high-end business centers, or handy hotel lobbies or libraries. With LiquidSpace, choose a better space for what you need to do now.”

    In the Silicon Valley there is a huge movement towards these kinds communally available workspaces for local start-ups and business meetings. In fact, there are some businesses that cropped up that ONLY provide a comfortable workspace and what’s worse is that people are actually paying for what libraries already offer!

    Almost all libraries have rooms and workspaces available to the public for free but don’t have an efficient way to manage them. This would solve that problem since this also works as a great online room reservation system. There is a mobile app and a web version. I set it up for my libraries and it only took a couple of minutes. All you have to do is put your library or its meeting rooms on the website and people can reserve the meeting rooms, or they can find out about your library as a workspace in the community.

    These Kimbel Library Instructional Videos are Filled with AWESOME!

    So, I thought I had a good idea once. No, it wasn’t a jump to conclusions mat, it was a library CREATING content for their webpage. We talk a lot about libraries allowing users to create content, or re-purposing libraries as a space for our patrons to create, make, innovate, and as hacker spaces. But what about the librarians themselves creating informative content? I thought I was on to something awesome!

    I started with this thought when I came across some amazing YouTube videos. There was the one about the best way to tie your shoes, how to properly peel a banana, and most importantly about how to open a bottle of wine without a proper opener. It occurred to me that the library should be creating these videos that are informational and educational and present creative solutions to real everyday problems in our patron’s lives.

    Wow! I was really on to something. I was totally going to come up with something awesome that hadn’t been done before. This is totally going to help our patrons in a great way! They would use this, they would enjoy this, they would use our information in their day to day lives! I thought about presenting my idea to director, going for some kind of grant, using the patrons for video ideas (or even to create the videos), and eventually presenting my idea at conferences, writing articles, blogs etc… I realized that Fame, fortune, money, alcohol fueled parties with rock gods and movie stars, and houses on the Riviera!! It would all be mine AT LAST!! (Because that’s why I got into librarianship in the first place) But then…

    I saw this EFFING brilliant site posted to the ALA Think Tank page by Kyle Denlinger.

    Click image for AWESOME!

    I guess it’s all been done. Kuddos to you Kimbel Library… Kudos.

    LibraryLab – Library Boing Boing is up and Running!

    ALA Happy Mutants Rejoice! Library Boing Boing is here with its inaugural post! This is something that I’m very excited about, but haven’t had a chance to be as involved in as I originally would have liked (sorry Jenny and Jason). Basically, the amazing and wonderful Jenny Levine from ALA put together an opportunity to post to the great website using the name Librarylab. The content will be based around libraries and exposing all of the amazing things that libraries do for people on a non-library based forum (which you know I support).

    Proposed Mission:
    To bring librarians and Boing Boing readers (aka, Happy Mutants) together to generate support for and raise interest in libraries via projects at local libraries.

    Proposed Goals:
    • Help find and propose content about libraries that could be posted to Boing Boing.

    • Provide active ways for Happy Mutants to support and get involved with their local libraries (eg, toolkits, best practices, ideas for local projects).

    • Create dynamic programming at library conferences that Library Boing Boingers can then take outside of the library community to promote libraries (eg, SxSW, local community events, etc.).

    • Work together to help Happy Mutants advance our shared interests (eg, copyright reform, net neutrality, game culture, digital divide issues, open government, etc.).

    • Coordinate an international community of librarians working with their own Happy Mutant groups.

    It’s being organized though the ALA Connect medium and you can join the backchannel discussion there. Jason Griffey and Jenny did an amazing job getting the folks together who did all of the background work and laid the foundation. But now, it’s time to get content and that’s where you come in! We’d love to hear what kinds of things your excited about in libraries that you think the world should know about. Have a great maker story from the library? A new library technology or innovation that you think the Happy Mutants would love to hear about? A thought on how folks can connect to the library in a new ways that people should know about? Tell us about something you think should be up on Boing Boing and see it up on the blog!

    Nooks and the Print Disabled (the elephant in the room)

    I’ve been thinking about the issue of providing access to materials for the hard of sight while balancing those needs with those of the Library and the community. This stemmed from a bunch of comments on the ALA Council Listerv, some in person, and one or two on my blog. The issue is pretty serious, especially since the National Society for the Blind is threatening to sue any library that starts a Nook lending library. I have a couple of thoughts on this whole problem and of course I have some solutions that I’d love to hear your thoughts on.

    First of all, let me make this one clear – On many forums I have read that libraries should offer Kindles instead of Nooks. This argument is brought up because some of the Kindle Content and the device itself at least has some features to help the sight impaired. However, this is NOT going to happen. I have a lot of issues with both Kindles and Amazon and some of their practices. They also will not work with libraries in any kind of meaningful way. They continuously change their terms of agreement and if you get one representative to give you the go ahead, you still run the risk of another saying no AFTER you buy all the Kindles. Of course Buffy Hamilton lays it all out here too. I have read way too many horrible library stories against both Amazon and Kindle to use those.

    Updated – *I am having people comment that Kindles are NOT print disabled friendly, my paragraph above was in response to messages that people have sent me that said that they were and that therefore we should provide Kindles instead of Nooks. Either way, it’s not a viable solution*

    There was a comment on my blog that we force Barnes and Noble to make the device navigable for the blind. I would love this to happen, however I have a doubt that it’s going to happen anytime soon, or soon enough, but I would love people to keep the pressure up so please keep that fight going!

    One of my most basic (and least favorite) solutions is that most libraries offer access to the same content through a multitude of other systems that work for the sight impaired. Some of the ones that I can think of are, CD audio books, Playaways, and downloadable audio books on computers and other MP3 devices. If the same content is made available in audio version, would this be a way to ensure that we are properly serving the needs of the Hard of Sight Community? This question admittedly comes out of ignorance, and I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this specifically.

    In California we also have an amazing library that we can get a wide range of materials from for our patrons. The California State Library loans braille, cassette and digital talking books, magazines and playback equipment to Californians unable to read conventional print. I know that this solution may not be the same as the Nooks, but I think people will be able to get the resources a lot faster than they would a Nook since the waitlist for most Nook devices is crazy if Sacramento Public Library is any indication of its success.

    Here is my real thought for a solution though. We could offer materials via something like an Ipod Nano. They would hold a high amount of material just like a Nook, but in audio format. If I’m reading these reports right, then I think this would be a very legitimate solution. But really, I’d like to hear people’s thoughts on this before we go out and buy them.

    The library (and me), love serving all people in our community and we really strive to do just that. We are navigating a new environment and I would love to hear people’s legitimate solutions before we start running around suing each other. We are here to help each other learn and grow and we can do that together by crowdsourcing some solutions. Help me come up with some solutions team.

    Libraries – Arguments for the Check-Out of eReaders.

    Great post by Bobbi Newman (eReader circ would solve these issues too)
    This is the post where I defend our library’s decision to Loan Nooks and make the argument that we should drop eBook circulation altogether. I know there are a bunch of reasons why people are going to argue that we shouldn’t check out eReaders and not to Drop Overdrive so I’m going to handle each of the ones that I have encountered here. (Later I’m going to argue for all the reasons why this solves all of our problems with eBooks)

    We didn’t check out VCR’s why should we check out Nooks?
    First, I would make the argument that maybe we should have. Then I’m going to ignore that statement, not defend it, and move on to my real argument. We check out books. The thing that we are checking though really, is not the book itself. We aren’t in the business of giving people access to cardboard and paper, that’s just the container for the information inside and it’s a container filled with information that we are checking out to our patrons. In the same way, the Nook is the container for the information in the digital age. Pre-Loaded Nooks are just a book with plastic and metal as the container instead of paper and cardboard. In contrast, a DVD Player, VCR, TV, Game Console, have no content within the devices. A pre-loaded eReader does though.

    I hate eReaders, make them check out a book!
    Strangely, I’ve heard this the most. We need to realize that information comes in many forms, some we love, some we hate. Personally I’m not a fan of eReaders either. But that’s not really my job. I’m not here to force people to have the same warm fuzzy experiences I had when I was child, I’m here to provide a service to my community. Specifically, I’m here to allow people to have access to information to help them become the people that they have the power to become. If they want to do it with information contained in an eReader format, that’s what I’m gonna give’em.

    Nooks require a computer to upload books from Overdrive
    Temporary access to digital books through a clunky program is a bad, horrible model of librarianship and luckily it’s only our first try. We can do better, and we can provide digital content through the circulation of eReaders instead of providing access through a horrible circulation model governed by publishers and a shaky (at best) product. We won’t even need Overdrive and our patron’s won’t need a computer if we just circulate pre-loaded eReaders.

    People won’t come to the Library to get eReaderss
    Well… I think they will. If they can check out every book on Lizards in the entire library system for their science project with one check-out, or every mystery novel written in the last ten years, or ALL of the current New York Times bestsellers with one trip to the library, then I think they will do it. Also, it solved a problem that the publishers recently whined about on a recent New York Times Article – “Ms. Hirschhorn says the reason publishers didn’t worry about lost sales from library lending of print books is that buying a book is easier — no return trip is needed to the bookstore.” Problem solved.

    Anyway, those are the big four arguments that I have heard against circulating eReaders at a library. But I am 93.4% convinced that this is the model that we need to follow in the digital age. If you want hard statistical evidence of its success rate, get on the waitlist for a Nook at Sacramento Public Library. The wait for those is as long as my… Well, It’s long.

    Librarians, Tell Amazon to Piss Off And Go Buy Nooks!

    Libraries need to get away from Amazon and Kindles and jump on board with Nooks. I’m not saying this for any reason except that Barnes and Noble is a much better company for libraries to partner with. If you want to see reasons why you shouldn’t bother with Kindles, then you should watch this video from Sarah Houghton But I’m not going to make that argument myself. I’ve had enough with all that. Instead I’m going to tell you all the reasons that I loved working with Barnes and Noble to get our eReader lending program going with a collection of Nooks. I’m not even going to defend the collection itself (I’ll do that in another post)

    First of all, this whole thing started because someone just called my library one day and offered us $4,000 from a Cable Co-Op grant for no good reason at all. They just wanted us to use the money for some kind of technology. I offered the idea of eReaders and they went for it. Not only did they go for it, but so did my administration (since they didn’t have to pay for it anyway).

    Click here for Sacramento PL's Guide to Nook Lending
    So, I spent about 6-7 months procrastinating and watching the eReader environment play out for a while and it didn’t look like it was going well. The Kindles/Overdrive/Amazon/Publishers debacle was killing my enthusiasm for the project. I researched what I thought was everyone’s experience with Amazon and Kindle because using those was my original intention. Buffy Hamilton told me about her experience with Amazon and so did a bunch of other librarians. They had everything from really positive experiences to really bad ones. Soon, I realized that the very bad stories started to outweigh the positive few and I was getting worried. I started to HATE this project and put it off even longer.

    Finally, I found out about Sacramento Public’s Nook Lending collection at the California Library Association Conference and I spent some time watching their presentations and talking to the Barnes and Noble reps that were there. They were enthusiastic to work with libraries and librarians to put these collections together. They had ideas and wanted to share them. They spoke candidly and told me all of their concerns with the pressure from publishers and what I should expect in the future.

    A couple of weeks later I called my local Barnes and Noble and I got exactly the same treatment! I couldn’t believe it! I was guided to the closest Barnes and Noble with a Community Relations Manager (CRM – Key word to me being “Community”) who then guided me through the whole process of ordering the maximum number of Nooks I could order, while balancing with gift cards for the purchasing of eBooks from the website. They are even coming to our library to give my staff a hands-on training on how to use the Nooks. They even went so far as to offer to teach classes to the public about how to use the Nooks! To say I was impressed was an unimaginable understatement. I know they’re just trying to sell more Nooks, but they won me over! Also, they bought me and the employee that I brought with me a coffee. Nothing buys a librarian’s love like free coffee.

    If you want to start a Nook collection, call your local Barnes and Noble and ask to speak to a CRM (Community Relations Manager). If your experience is half of what mine was, this would make them the best vendor on the planet.

    A Ridiculous but Entertaining Hacker Solution to the Porn Problem.

    Eric Riley posted this article to the ALA Think Tank group on Facebook. And, if it works, it could be the solution to all of the library’s privacy on the computers problems. No longer requiring computer filters and all that BS. So I’m sure Sarah Houghton would love it. Basically, the solution works like this;

    Remove the LCD’s frame, cutting out its polarized film with a utility knife before removing the screen’s film adhesive with a combination of cleaner and paint thinner and reassembling the monitor. Once complete, grab the glasses, cut out the lenses and combine them with the plastic film removed from the monitor before inserting them back into their frames.

    After you do all this, you will be left with a computer screen that will look like a white screen to anyone not wearing the customized glasses. In essence our patrons will be able to have complete and total privacy if wanted.

    That being said, of course it’s not a perfect solution for a number of reasons, but right off the top of my head I see these;

  • Anyone wearing the glasses anywhere in the library will be able to see what’s on the screen (kids included)
  • You’ll be stuck with a bunch of folks with sunglasses on indoors (which always looks douchie)
  • You’ll have to supply glasses that have been worn (hardly sanitary)
  • The glasses will get stolen (as does everything else)
  • But anyway, it’s a fairly outside the box and entertaining solution and I’m always down for some creative solutions to problems no matter how radical. I love the thought of it, but maybe not in practice.

    Here’s a video if you want to see it yourself